Title: Text DRIVE For a Story
Pairing/s: (pre) Merlin/Arthur
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: To calm his nerves, Arthur tells Merlin a story.
Word Count: 1,211
Prompt: #95 - Song Prompt
Author's Notes: By popular request, I wrote more. Not as good as the first one, unfortunately, as I'm a bit pressed for time. Sorry about that! It's been a hectic week. But anyway, enjoy the next part of this little series.
First Part: "Text HELP For a Friend"
At the sound of the car, Merlin sprang up from his bed. He felt vaguely sick to his stomach, his insides churning at the thought that Arthur was really here, that he really had driven to his house at three in the morning, solely because Merlin said he needed him.
Merlin breathed in unsteadily, before on shaky legs, he stumbled as quietly as he could manage down the stairs to the door. He fumbled with the lock and pulled the door open, revealing the weary, yet concerned gaze of Arthur, knuckles just shy of the wooden frame. He'd apparently been about to knock, and, at seeing Merlin, he dropped his hand.
His heart swelled, a surge of happiness bursting inside of him all at once. It didn't do much for his ill feeling, overwhelming him. When Arthur asked, “Merlin?”, for some reason, it all hit him, and he fell apart.
A horrible, wretched sound escaped his lips, and his body let out a violent shudder. He whimpered pitifully, before seconds later Merlin wiped furiously at his eyes, already feeling the tears welling up.
He felt so ridiculous, not to mention weak. He felt weak in the knees and in the heart. Stupid Arthur, stupid, noble, caring Arthur, who wouldn't let him hang up, who came without hesitation when Merlin asked him to--
Merlin's thoughts were abruptly cut short when he felt something grace his shoulders. Arthur had shrugged off his jacket and draped it on him, the warmth from his body seeping into Merlin's bones. It was such an intimate gesture, and for a moment, he was stunned, like his mind had just blown a fuse. He stared, but when he regained his wits, he pulled it to himself, hugging the soft fabric closer to his skin. He scrubbed the fresh falling tears from his eyes.
Arthur put an arm around him, and guided him away from the house, shutting the door in his wake. He walked Merlin around to the passenger side of his car, putting him inside of it. Merlin didn't protest.
A few seconds later, Arthur got into the driver's side, and started the engine. He put it into gear and drove, the tires smooth on the road before them.
It was silent in the vehicle as Merlin let himself sob for a little longer. Arthur didn't try to soothe him or quell his sobs, which, Merlin was somehow grateful for. It was as if Arthur respected the fact that he needed to let this out, to let all of this pain and anguish out, and was letting him without protest.
The area they were driving through was a place Merlin didn't recognize, and when his blubbering finally subsided, the quiet stretched on, until Merlin decided to break it.
“Where are we going?” he croaked, voice hoarse from all the crying.
“Anywhere,” Arthur replied, a tad cryptically. “Everywhere. Wherever you want to go.”
Merlin rolled his eyes, but managed a small huff of laughter in spite of himself. He watched the road in front of them. In all honesty, he just wanted to be someplace that wasn't here.
The silence didn't stretch properly, so, when Merlin figured out that Arthur was waiting for an answer, Merlin swallowed. “Let's go over the bridge.”
Arthur hummed his affirmation, and Merlin leaned back in the car seat, pulling the jacket around him a little tighter, like a security blanket.
After another five minutes of calm, endless quiet, Merlin glanced over at Arthur, trying to read his face, but found it carefully neutral. So he tilted his head. “You're not going to ask?”
“Not my place,” Arthur said simply, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel.
“Kind of is,” Merlin quipped, returning his gaze to the road. “I did drag you out of bed at three in the morning.”
“As if you could drag me anywhere with your skinny arms,” Arthur snorted, and Merlin saw lights from up ahead.
The bridge was coming into view.
Merlin, despite himself, smiled. He had so many memories of this bridge. It had always been his favorite part of leaving home and coming home—to be able to see the bridge. It was old looking but still a sturdy structure, and it was almost magical—to him, at least.
“My mother,” Arthur began quietly, not tearing his gaze away from straight ahead. “Told me a story about this bridge once.”
Merlin turned to him, urging him silently to continue.
A small smile graced Arthur's lips. “She told me long ago, before this bridge, well, modern, it was a small, magic bridge guarded by a little man. Any who wanted to get across had to first prove that they were worthy, for beyond the bridge was the mystical land of the Fisher King, where Lake Avalon resided. However, when war struck, it ravaged the lands, and Avalon dried up. After the war, many people were either dead of moved away, and savaged beasts took over, earning its new name, the Perilous Lands.”
Merlin closed his eyes.
“The little man, however, still guarded the bridge for hundreds of years to come. For a prophecy was foretold. A trio would restore Avalon to its former glory, someday, and bring forth a golden kingdom. This trio would be known as Courage, Magic, and Strength.”
He could hear the fondness in Arthur's voice.
“One day, a prince was on a quest, and the little man knew that instantly that he was one of the trio. He identified the prince as Courage, for he was on his own, pursuing a dangerous task. But, the prince's life was in danger, and the rest of the trio wasn't far behind. Magic and Strength, a young warlock and a dashing rogue, came shortly thereafter.”
Merlin couldn't help but grin, at that.
Arthur laughed to himself, as well. They pulled off the bridge and into the night once more. “And so, eventually, they did. Bring forth that kingdom, I mean. The bridge was just the starting point, where destiny set their lives in motion.”
“You don't remember the rest?” Merlin asked, raising a brow. “You sound like you don't remember the rest.”
“That's just it,” Arthur replied. “There is no more. It's just, the bridge is meant to signify the start of something better, the start of something you're meant to be doing. At least, that's what mother told me.”
Merlin sighed, the lights fading in the distance. He felt weary down to his core, and really, he didn't know what he wanted to do. He didn't want to go home, but he couldn't make Arthur drive him around for the rest of the morning. That would be wrong of him.
“Do you, maybe want to stay at my place?” Arthur asked, as if reading his mind. “It'd really be no trouble. And let's face it, mate, I don't think you really want to go home right now, am I right?”
Dumbly, Merlin just wanted to cry again. He'd been crying way too much tonight. But he felt so relieved, like a weight had been lifted off of him.
“Thank you,” he whispered, breathing in, collecting himself. “Thank you.”
Arthur hummed again in acknowledgment, unknowing that Merlin was thanking him for more than letting him stay the night.